Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Ten Commandments of Successful Weight Loss Programs

People love tips, secrets, shortcuts or anything can help them to find the best exercises and weight loss programs. They listen to the dieting gurus, experts and perhaps barbers or hair dressers too. They keep searching and waiting for the magic diet pills.

Weight-loss is simple, but not easy.

People tend to overcomplicate things and make it so hard to quit easily. Like I said in my article about the secret to weight loss, many people are counting grams and calories to lose weight while eating junk foods all the time. What's the point?

Losing fat safely, effectively and permanently requires consistent efforts in various areas. There are more and more research studies showing that dieting usually fails in the the long run. Dieting is a quick-fix mindset that doesn't address the real issue and fundamental problem of a person's failure to lose weight. Eating balanced meals that contains real whole foods and nutrients is more satisfying.

"If dieting worked, there would be a bunch of skinny people walking around," said obesity researcher Dr. David Katz, head of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. This had not happened and it got worse and worse.

I crossed by an article about 10 commandments of the best exercise and weight loss programs. They are very useful guidelines for successful weight loss that extends my earlier article on weight loss. These 10 commandments are listed in the following. Read to learn the details here. >>

The Ten Commandments of the Best Exercise and Weight Loss Programs

1. Thou Shalt Move... Anytime!

2. Thou Shalt Not Skip Breakfast.

3. Thou Shalt Eat Healthy Meals.

4. Thou Shalt Be Prepared.

5. Thou Shalt Find a Support Group.

6. Thou Shalt Drink Water.

7. Thou Shalt Not Listen to the Fat Guy.

8. Thou Shalt Learn New Things.

9. Thou Shalt Set Goals.

10. Thou Shalt Smile!

Click here to read more. >>

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Secret to Weight Loss

Oh, no, another "secret"? You're kidding me!

I should say THE missing link to long-term weight managment and wellness.

So what is it?

You can guess:

  • High intensity resistance training to build muscle and strength. No problem. I hit the gym 4 times a week.
  • High intensity interval training H.I.I.T. cardio exercise to fire up metabolism. Got that. I "H.I.I.T." the treadmill 5 times a week.
  • Balanced nutrition, 5 to 6 meals a day to refuel your body and keep your blood sugar level steady. I'm pretty good at eating well although sometimes I cheat and eat junk foods.
  • Commitment to your health, be accountable for yourself. Yes, I resolved to lose weight 60 pounds this year.
  • Mastermind group and support team to cheer you up. Yeah, I try to stay away from those negative people who think I cannot lose weight.
  • Coach or mentor to guide you. Yup, I also have a tough personal trainer who kicks my butt and keeps me motivated.

What if you have tried all of above and are still struggling to achieve your goals?

Feeling frustrated? Tired? Depressed? Burnout? I feel for you. Learn the 7 keys to avoid burnout from an Intensive Self-care Coach.

Ask yourself again. Be honest to youself.

  • Perhaps weight training 4 times a week is too much for you. Are you training at the "high" intensity you're thinking?
  • On top of weigh training, H.I.I.T. cardio 5 times a week? Are you sure it's really "high" intensity? Are you overtrained?
  • Is your nutrition really balanced to meet your training demand and goals? Good mix of complex carbohydrates, protein and fat? Are you counting calories and still eating junk?
  • Do you really follow your plan? Skipping workout? Binge-eating? Is losing 60 pounds in a year realistic?
  • Is your circle of support getting smaller and smaller. Is your energy draining, not charged?
  • After the personal training sessions, do you follow the individualized workout plan designed by your trainer? Your trainer always know.

Then what is missing?

You may do good in some of these areas. But you may lose focus and balance in some other areas. Losing inch and pound is not a healthy goal. That's not a healthy, meaningful, enjoyable life to just worry about losing 10 pounds or dropping 6 dress sizes.

What's it?

What's THE secret to weight loss?

Isn't it obvious? It's

your lifestyle and overall wellness.

Weight loss is simple, but not easy. It's not even a secret.

Your lifestyle is the foundation to put all the above elements together. It's the key to your sucess for your health and fitness. Healthy lifestyle changes are foremost important in your overall wellness.

You build all these elements by doing these healthy behaviors and activities to achieve your desired lifestyle and wellness. Otherwise, you're like traveling without a destination and roadmap.

How do you go about healthy life changes without quitting on the yard line?

One of the best ways is to join a group coaching and intensive training for performance lifestyle. This type of coaching and mentoring program has many benefits:

  • Learn how to get active again; the active lifestyle model for year round consistency.
  • Clarify your goals, objectives and your vision.
  • Bring it all together to accomplish what you really want, to look, feel and perform better.
  • Go through each step with a qualified coach and develop a plan of action.
  • Coordinate all aspects of your lifestyle so you can achieve your goals with the best use of your energy.
  • Focus on personal energy management and achiever mindset in health, nutrition, weight loss and fitness. Learn how to effectively recharge your energy, eat for success by eating Nutrient Rich whole foods that are optimal for health and natual weight loss.
  • Small mastermind group puts you with a group of like-minded achievement-oriented people to become your accountability partners.

>>> Sign up FREE monthly e-Newsletter to receive insider training tips, workout routines and check out your FREE bonus e-books to help you build muscles, lose fat and uncover your six pack abs.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

How to Change Up Your Weight Training Routine

Why 3 sets by 10 reps? What's the Magic?

No. No magic. It's just a very basic weight training prescription for beginners - nothing good or bad or magical - just simple and easy to remember and follow.
The 3 sets of 10 reps program got its start in the '40s and '50s in some early strength training experiments. Some fitness pros even laughed at this 3x10 program as "amateur" way of weight training.
If you've been lifting weight but haven't gained much strength or muscle, changing up your weight training routine may hold the key to reveal your six pack abs. Who don't want firm and flat abs?

Let's look at the training variables you can manipulate for weight training (resistance training):
  • Selection of exercises
  • Order of exercises
  • Weights (resistance)
  • Sets
  • Reps
  • Tempo (rep speed)
  • Rest interval
  • Loading pattern
  • Periodization program
Reasonably simple, huh? Yes, but there's more to it. The combination of all these variables determine your training volume and intensity and your results.

Let's look at an example. Say you want to work on your chest (pectoral muscles) by choosing dumbbell flat bench press and dumbbell flye exercises (your selection of exercises). One classical straight-set workout may look like this (after light-weight warm-up sets) :

Classical Straight Set for Hypertrophy (Muscle Building)
DB Bench Press: 60 lbs x 3 sets x 10 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 1 minute rest
Dumbbell Flyes: 30 lbs x 3 sets x 10 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 1 minute rest
Comments: The order of exercises is dumbbell bench press first followed by dumbbell flyes. Each exercise is performed for 3 sets by 10 reps at respective weights. The lifting tempo is 2-0-1 rep speed. The rest interval between sets is one minute. The weight loading pattern is straight set; i.e., same weight through each exercise. Some people may call Dumbbell Flyes as "post-exhaustion" set in this combination.

What Else Can You Do?

Well, a lot more than you think.
The following shows several variations to above weight training routine with comments.

Variation #1 Pre-exhaustion Set
Dumbbell Flyes: 35 lbs x 3 sets x 10 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 1 minute rest
DB Bench Press: 55 lbs x 3 sets x 10 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 1 minute rest

Comments: The order of exercises is reversed. Flye is an isolation exercise that would tire out your pec as an "pre-exhaustion" set. You may be able to "fly" more weight first, but you almost wouldn't be able to lift as much in the subsequent Bench Press (a compound exercise).

Variation #2 Straight-Set for Maximum Strength
DB Bench Press: 75 lbs x 5 sets x 3 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 3 minute rest
Dumbbell Flyes: 40 lbs x 5 sets x 3 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 3 minute rest

Comments: By reversing the set x rep combination to the low rep range and heavier weights, you're training for maximum strength development. Training load and intensity are higher. You typically have to reduce training volume and rest longer between sets to recover from metabolic and physiological stresses.

Variation #3 Super Set
DB Bench Press @ 60 lbs x 10 reps (2-0-1 tempo) followed immediately without rest with Dumbbell Flyes @ 30 lbs x 10 reps (2-0-1 tempo)
Repeat this superset two more times for a total of 3 sets with1-minute rest between supersets.

Comments: Superset means you do two exercises back to back without rest. Take the rest till you finish both exercises as one set. These two exercises could target the same muscle group as it is in this case. You can also superset unrelated muscle groups (such as leg and shoulder) or opposing muscle groups (biceps and triceps).

Variation #4 Pyramid Set
DB Bench Press: 55 lbs x 12 reps, 60 lbs x 10 reps, 70 lbs x 6 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 2 minute rest
Dumbbell Flyes: 40 lbs x 6 reps, 30 lbs x 10 reps, 25 lbs x 12 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 2 minute rest

Comments: DB Bench Press loading pattern is a regular pyramid method. Start with lower-weight/higher-rep set and progress to heavier- weight/lower-rep set. Dumbbell Flyes loading pattern is an inverted or reverse pyramid scheme. Start with heavier-weight/lower-rep set and progress to lower-weight/high-rep set. There are also more complicated double pyramid and flat pyramid loading patterns.

Variation #5 Tempo & Tension Manipulation
By simply changing the tempo, it makes a lot of difference in the time under tension (TUT) on your muscles. Tempo (rep speed) refers to how quickly you lift the weight (concentric or "positive" phase) and lower the weight (eccentric or "negative" phase).

The 3-point tempo prescription of 2-0-1 means that you take 2 seconds to lower the weight, zero second pause at the bottom (stretch), and take one second to lift the weight. A more complicated 4-point tempo prescription adds the 4th digit for the time to hold (contracted) at the top of lifting.
For example, a "3-0-2" tempo prescription on the original straight set routine would make a huge impact on how you feel on the muscles and muscle growth. You'll probably start to feel that kind of unbearable muscle soreness by the 8th rep. You're struggling through the last two reps. That's the difference!

Variation #6 Anabolic/Anaerobic Conditioning
By reducing the rest interval between sets (say from 1 minute to 45 seconds), you'll be able to improve your anabolic conditioning and anaerobic fitness. You only rest till you're "almost" recovered and go for the next set. You don't wait around for 3 to 5 minutes till fully recovered.

Watch out for this routine as it's very taxing to your mind and body. You probably have to reduce the weights, too. So check out your ego.

One extreme example of this variation is modified Olympic Power Training Routine. Anaerobic conditioning and performance is achieved by training and pushing VO2 max and lactic acid or lactate threshold.

Variation #7 Periodization
I covered this topic before about periodizing your training program. After a few weeks of dedicated and consistent training, you've gained some muscles, become stronger, and are able to lift heavier or more reps. That's, you're adapted to the workout routine. You need new stimulus to continue to build strength and grow muscles by progressive overloading.

Why not try 3 sets x 12 reps at 45-second rest interval or 4 sets x 8 reps at 90-second rest interval, even on the same weights and exercise combination?

Get in the Program and Stay on It

Aren't you having enough yet? The list of variations can go on if you start to add more or different exercises to work on chest muscles. There are also other training methods such as tri-set, giant set, drop set, forced rep, super slow rep, "negative" focused rep, etc. You see, there are a lot more variations available for changing up your weight training routine than you can imagine. You'll never be bored with weight training.

One mistake made by many beginners is that they change their workout routine too often. Some keep changing their programs or routines in every workout or evey week. They try all sorts of fancy body part split routines they can find in the books, body building magazines or from their gym buddies.

No Program Hopping

You have to stay on and complete one program for a prescribed period, be it 3, 6 or 8 weeks. Do not try a different variation in every workout; otherwise there is no accumulated, consistent and positive training effect on the muscular, neurological and hormonal levels. It also needs to be designed and integrated into the longer training macrocycle as periodization.

Each variation has its purpose and effect. Define your training goal first. Pick one variation of your current workout routine and stay on it for at least three weeks. It may help you break your training plateau. You may see new strength gain and muscle growth in no time!

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Fire Up Your Metabolism to Burn off the Last 10 Pounds of Body Fat

The Forever Last 10 pounds, huh?

Many people have this question as to how to get rid of the perpetually stubborn 5 or 10 pounds of body fat. It's the most difficult and challenging 5 to 10 pounds to lose since your body wants to store fat for emergency use.

People all want to blame their genes, declining metabolism due to natural aging when they cannot lose weight.

These are just excuses.

You can still stay fit even if you're over 40!

I have a few strategies to help you boost your metabolism, kick-start your fat-burning furnace and move beyond your plateau. Follow these simple steps, you may be able to melt away the last pound of body fat and reveal your six pack abs in no time!

What Is Metabolism?

Metabolism is a scientific term that describes the rate of energy conversion - how your body process the foods and metabolize them into nutrients to fuel your body. This comes with a price at caloric expenditure. Although it's true that our metabolic rate drops by an average of 10% for every decade after age 25 to 30, it doesn't have to be this way. The decline is mostly due to reduced physical activities, poor diet and nutrition, bad habits and unhealthy lifestyle.

Our daily caloric intake is consumed through many pathways. Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) takes up approximately 60 to 70% of daily energy consumption. That is the energy consumed while your body is at rest, sitting or sleeping, doing nothing. A good chunk of calories is consumed to support normal brain and body functions. Physical activities and exercises use up about 20 to 25%. The thermic effect of foods is about 10 to 15%.

As you can see, it's most powerful to raise your resting metabolic rate since it takes up a majority of caloric consumption. Increasing physical activies and intensive exercises help consume more calories. A good combination of food intake helps complete the last piece of metabolic puzzle.

What Can You Do to Boost Your Metabolism?
Follow these 5 simple strategies . . .
1. Perform resistance training to build lean muscle. You need to engage in some types of resistance training (free weight, strength machine, tubing/band). You know that by building lean muscle mass, your body burns off more calories even if you're just sitting around, doing nothing. The difference could be 20 to 50 more calories burned for every extra pound of lean muscle mass you build up. In addition, when repairing the damaged muscle tissues from resistance training, your body consumes extra calories to complete the repair and recovery process. So you got additional calorie expenditure. Learn how to change up your training routine when you hit the plateau.

2. Perform High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) cardio exercise. I have covered this topic about H.I.I.T. cardio exercise to effectively enhance your cardiovascular fitness and help you burn fat all day. I have also shown many sample H.I.I.T. cardio routines. You can do H.I.I.T. cardio on the treadmill, elliptical trainer, stairmaster or stationary bike by alternating fast and slow speeds for long/short durations and several repeats. The concept can be applied to other types of cardio exercise and outdoor running - jump rope, cycling, kickboxing, hill running and distance repeat. You can do H.I.I.T. for 30 minutes as a separate workout on days that you don't lift weight. Or better yet, do a quick 15-minute H.I.I.T. at the end of your resistance training session. The "after-burn" will help you keep burning fat for at least 24 to 48 hours afterwards.

3. Add variation and variety to your training program. It's a standard training practice to periodize a training program throughout the year or season. You should at least evaluate and change up a training program every 4 to 6 weeks of mesocycle for many reasons. When you do new exercises, you're in the learning mode. Your body tries to guess how you can handle it. This "inefficiency" helps you burn more calories. After a period of consistent training, your body adapts to the new load and intensity level. Your progress starts to diminish. There are many ways to change up your weight training routine. By doing so, you'll progressively overload your body to make continual strength gain and muscle growth. Adding variety to your training program as a cross training helps you to prevent overtraining burnout and overuse injuries. You can also add different activities or choose your workouts by your personality.

4. Adjust protein intake. Without going into details about specific diet, nutrition and supplements, a higher protein intake will help you burn more calories because it just takes more energy to digest protein. This is the thermic effect of foods. Always eat a balanced meal. You know that you need protein to help build muscle. The idea here is not to overload your diet with protein and accidentally eat high-fat food. A good tip is always have some sources of protein in every meal or snack.

5. Plan your next week. Reserve one hour or two each week to review what you have done this week and plan your workout and nutrition for the coming week. Note any schedule conflict with your workout so that you plan around it. Then you plan your nutrition around your workout. It also helps with damage control for unforeseen social obligations or job demands. Be proactive about your training and nutrition schedule.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

>>> Sign up for FREE 'Jump-Start Your Body!' Workout and Nutrition Program to receive insider training tips, workout routines and check out your FREE bonus e-books to help you build muscles, lose fat and uncover your six pack abs.

Copyright 2007 by C. Carey Yang and Beyond Fitness Solutions, LLC. All rights reserved.

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